Budget cuts have made top cop role a challenge

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The role of chief constable is undoubtedly the top job for any ambitious police officer – but to those not in the force, it must look like an unenviable task.

Tough budget cuts have made the past few years particularly difficult as the country’s top cops have had to juggle diminishing resources under an ever-brighter spotlight to deliver improving results.

At times it must feel like an impossible mission, especially when you consider how high the public’s expectations are when it comes to tackling crime.

It’s true that Hampshire’s own chief constable, Alex Marshall, hasn’t had an easy ride since he took over the post in 2008.

And as we get ready to see him depart in early 2013, we should give him credit for the achievements he has made.

When Mr Marshall took on the job he pledged that his priorities would be to cut crime and ensure that the police retained a visible presence on our streets.

To be honest, we would have expected nothing less. But the crucial test is whether he’s actually managed to deliver on those promises.

Mr Marshall points to the fact that he’s seen five consecutive years of crime reduction in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Anti-social behaviour has also gone down and burglary rates are at an all-time low.

We congratulate him for these results but particularly for the way he’s coped with spending cuts while protecting the frontline.

We wish him well for the future and hope his successor can pick up where he left off.

The new chief constable will certainly have a new challenge on his or her hands as we prepare to elect a police and crime commissioner.

That’s bound to bring a whole different set of difficulties and the chief constable will also have to make more tricky decisions about the force’s budget in the future.

Whoever steps into the new role will be expected to build on Mr Marshall’s successes. As we wait to find out who that will be, one thing is for certain – this isn’t a role for someone unprepared for public scrutiny.